Labor Center

Labor Summer

General Information

Learn Organizing Skills

Applied Research & Policy

Information for Union and CBO Hosts


Student flyer:
Labor Summer 2014

Host flyer:
Labor Summer 2014


Unions today are facing unprecedented challenges. Every organization needs talented and effective people to contribute to their work on the ground. The Labor Center's summer internship program — Labor Summer — has proved to be a very successful way to connect skilled and committed UC students to unions and labor organizations that can benefit from their contributions.

Program dates: June 23-August 15

Program cost: $6,000 for an undergraduate student; $7,000 for a graduate student

Application due date: March 3, 2014
Interns will begin at their site placements on June 30 after they have completed their one-week orientation at the Labor Center.

Letter from UC Berkeley Labor Center Chair Ken Jacobs about the program PDF

Gaining valuable skills
Labor Summer is not just another summer internship program. Students not only learn about unions, they also see how their skills— including industry and policy research, economic and policy analysis, and the ability to speak a language such as Spanish, Tagalog, or Cantonese—can make a valuable contribution to their host organizations.

Opportunities to meet students
Unions also benefit from graduates of the program who constitute a highly-skilled, well-trained and committed group of new talent. Over its ten-year history, the Labor Summer program has racked up an impressive record. It has trained and placed more than 200 interns. The program's retention rate—the percentage of interns that continue to work in the labor movement—is almost 30 percent! This is an exceptionally high retention rate and speaks to the quality of the program, not to mention the satisfaction of working in the labor movement. The value of the program is illustrated by the frequency with which unions hire interns once the program ends.

The Labor Summer program provides an extremely valuable and successful vehicle for students to learn how their skills and energy can connect with the labor movement and to working people. It provides resources and access to the University for unions and community organizations in the form of students, and perhaps most importantly, it provides preparation for and entry into the labor movement to a diverse group of students with valuable skills.

Labor Summer allows students to contextualize their own experiences and to learn the importance of the labor movement through a critical framework. The internship creates a pipeline for young activists to join the labor movement and to share their enthusiasm and experience as leaders on and off campus with their host site.

The Labor Summer program provides host organizations with:

  • Recruitment and screening of student interns;
  • Orientation, ongoing training and supervision of interns;
  • Support for union staff on how to best use the interns' skills;
  • Labor Center staff or alumni of the program as mentors;
  • Skilled and committed students for seven weeks where interns will spend the majority of their 40 hours per week at the placement site, but will be required to attend education and training sessions at the Labor Center;
  • The opportunity to hire pre-screened and trained students.
Requirements for host organizations:
  • A clear project for interns including goals, objectives and a timeline;
  • An assigned staff person to supervise the interns' work, provide support and feedback and be available to the intern;
  • An office location within commuting distance of the greater Bay Area or possibly Central California;
  • An ability to contribute funds up front for the interns' stipend and training costs.

» 2014 Online Host Application

Contact: Karen Orlando
Phone: (510) 643-8366

Past site supervisors had this to say about working with their interns:

"We wanted someone bilingual because there are so many Spanish-speaking workers in the residential construction market. Our intern was knowledgeable, worked hard and spent his time well—he did a really good job. He asked workers about their wages and was able to find out if the contractors were exploiting them or not. The workers were more comfortable talking with him than with those of us who speak English. He put them at ease. Our intern helped us find out a lot about the construction market in Napa and Solano Counties."

-Bruce P. Gourley, Business Manager/Financial Secretary, IBEW, Local 180

“We gave our intern an assignment that would have challenged any experienced researcher. Her resulting work has been of the highest quality, and is extremely valuable to Local 2. We are deeply appreciative of the work Labor Summer did to identify such a first-rate intern. She has been an enormous asset to our organization, and we will truly miss her.

-Ian Lewis, Researcher, HERE Local 2

Center for Labor Research and Education
2521 Channing Way # 5555
Berkeley, CA 94720-5555
TEL (510) 642-0323    FAX (510) 642-6432

A public service and outreach program of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment